Ashley shuddered when she spotted the garage doors. She knew she had to look inside, but she was wary of what she would find behind the doors.
She decided to tug at the garage door, not expecting it to open so quickly. She rushed inside and what she saw inside had her sucking in a breath.
Ashley Smith and her husband Ricky had lived in their neighborhood for 25 years. It was a glorious place to live in, with perfectly trimmed bushes and white picket fences everywhere in sight. There was nowhere else Ashley would rather live.
But one dark night, something happened in this idyllic, picture-perfect neighborhood. And nothing was ever the same again.
Ashley’s clock struck 1:15 am, and she woke up to the sound of a car door being slammed shut outside. “That’s strange,” Ashley thought. There was never any noise at this time in the neighborhood.
She rubbed her tired eyes and peered outside her window, and what she saw left a chill up her spine.
Across the road from Ashley’s home was a garage covered in graffiti that had been unwanted and abandoned for years. Until now.
Ashley saw a man get out of a car and open the garage doors. He walked inside and slammed the doors shut behind him. Why would somebody go to their garage in the middle of the night? Something didn’t sit right with Ashley.
The following morning Ashley woke up to see the man and his car were still at the garage. Did he not leave all night? As quickly as she could, she went over to introduce herself.
The man was called Darren, and as hard as Ashley tried to get information out of him, he remained tight-lipped. She asked where he lived, but he shrugged his shoulders, all the while, he kept the garage doors shut. What was he hiding?
Ashley walked away from Darren and the garage with even more questions than before. She heard the garage doors slam shut, and a chill ran up her spine.
Ashley had a gut feeling something strange was going on. Darren was hiding something in that garage, for sure. And Ashley was determined to find out what.
The following weeks passed, and Ashley was surprised to see Darren at his garage every single day. She had no idea what he was doing in there, but the buzzing sound of a chainsaw was all that she heard for a good few days.
He must be working in there, right? Nobody – not even Ashley – could have known what this sinister gentleman man was doing in the garage.
For a few weeks, Ashley and a few other neighbors stood on the street, clutching their coffees and laughing at Darren’s garage. Did he not have a home? A family? Was he sleeping rough in his garage?
From what she could tell, Darren didn’t have a job, or if he did, he must work from home as he was never out on his morning commute. Then one dark night, Ashley saw something. Something she never thought she’d ever see in her perfect neighborhood.
At first, it was the anti-social behavior and unwillingness to meet his neighbors that irritated Ashley. Then it was his bizarre visiting habits, now, more and more odd behaviors started to show, and Ashley didn’t like any of it.
It wasn’t long before her suspicions of this man became more and more prevalent and his actions more and more secretive.
Ashley began to hear strange noises and thumps coming from the garage in the dead hours of the night. Often, it would wake her up from sleep.
Then one night, the noise was so bad that she got up to look out her window, but what she saw sent a cold and terrifying shiver down her spine.
Ashley looked out in the middle of the night to see Darren, wearing all black, hoodie up, gloves on, carrying something from his garage.
He hauled it with tremendous difficulty to his car boot, then hopped in his car and drove off. Where was he going? What was he doing?
Ashley couldn’t sleep, worrying about the strange, aloof man with creepy, odd habits who lived right beside her.
Acting on impulse, she got dressed and mumbled, ‘It’s now or never,’ as her heart pounded and yearned for the truth. She knew he was up to something bad, she just had to find out what so she could report him.
Ashley ran across the road and tried to open his garage door. It was locked. She sneaked around the side, looking for open windows. Finally, she found one and tiptoed in.
She had to snoop around quickly. She wasn’t sure if a garage had the same trespassing rules as a house. Probably less, she thought. But the garage was dark, she couldn’t see anything. Suddenly, she heard a sound.
Ashley froze. Her heart began to pound. He turned on the lights and entered the room with his strange tools in hand. He didn’t notice her there at first, but when he did, she shrieked in surprise and terror.
She saw exactly what he was doing! And she knew there was no way out of this. She was a deer caught in headlights.
As Ashley’s eyes adjusted to the light, she saw one of the coolest interior designs she had ever seen. He was remodeling the garage into his home.
He worked day and night tirelessly to build, tidy, organize and clean the garage space. It was almost complete and looked like something out of a magazine cover. Ashley was shocked, as was Darren.
After the initial shock, Ashley apologized profusely, but he didn’t accept it, of course. She was trespassing on his property, after all.
Eagerly, Ashley told him that she thought he was a criminal and explained what she saw and how he had made her feel over the past few weeks. Darren couldn’t help but laugh and posted his crazy story online. The post went viral, but what did people think?
Some users commented and told Darren she was right to check it out if she thought he was doing criminal acts.
But most others commented to say that they thought her actions were completely unacceptable and illegal and told him to press charges. He thought about it seriously, but Ashley wasn’t finished with her apology yet.
The next day, Ashley knocked on his door with baked goods, wine, and flowers, as well as a small housewarming gift. She was mortified and explained herself some more.
She also explained how impressed she was with how he designed and remodeled the garage. In the end, Darren decided to let it slide, trusting it would never happen again. “Want a tour?” he asked, grinning.
Darren introduced Ashley to his wife, dog, and young son, and she sheepishly introduced herself, still feeling absolutely mortified. She had no idea he had a family.
It turned out that Darren and his family had been living here while he waited for construction to finish on his new house, just on the other side of town.
Instead of paying an exorbitant amount on rent while they waited for their dream home to be built from scratch, Darren had seen something online that had inspired him.
It was a show called “Tiny House Nation.” And then he’d come across the old garage that was for sale in Ashley’s neighborhood and had a brilliant idea.
Darren paid $107,000 for the garage, which was 440 square feet. He thought it was pretty decent, considering it was half the price of apartments in the surrounding area.
But he was soon mocked for giving this crazy plan a try. But Darren saw potential in the garage, and he refused to back down.
Darren’s refusal to listen to others paid off as the former garage, now home, boasts a kitchen, dining room, living room, work area, bathroom, and even a sleeping loft!
Ashley was amazed by Darren’s home and his talent. Who’d have guessed that a small garage could be transformed into a fully-equipped –albeit tiny – home?
The entire home was divided into four sections, which are situated on four different levels of the tiny home.
And what Ashley found even more surprising was that a family of three and a small Jack Russel were able to live in this tiny space comfortably. Darren had made good use of every single inch of the garage when he planned out this outrageous DIY project.
Down one level off the kitchen is a living area — which is fitted with a three-seater sofa. And, as a clever use of space, there is a small shelf in front of the lounge that has a compartment that is big enough for a computer screen.
There are two vents for fresh air — one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom — but the front door can also be opened for ventilation. But how could a space so small house a family of three?
Tiny houses are stripped-back, downscaled versions of regular houses. Ready-made — or “turnkey” — tiny homes are on the US market, and since last year, DIY tiny home kits are even available to buy on Amazon.
And more and more people, reluctant to get into the vicious cycle of debt that owning a home can bring, are giving tiny houses some serious consideration.
The tiny house movement originated in the 1970s but took off after the 2008 financial crisis when many young people decided to build affordable compact homes.
Tiny houses are particularly popular in the US, Australia, and New Zealand, with growing communities in Fresno, California, and Spur, Texas. So, how did Darren’s DIY micro home compare to a “regular” house?
The micro house is fitted with all the necessary amenities. There is a full kitchen with a single sink, a decent-sized fridge, a small gas stove, a kettle, a pantry cupboard, and a few other kitchen appliances.
The area under the floor of the kitchen is used as a storage space and also houses a small washing machine. But what about the bathroom?
Inside Darren’s house is a bathroom with a sink, combined shower, and toilet. The ceiling of the bathroom serves as a platform for a home entertainment system, which is easily viewed from the bed.
The loft sleeping area, or bedroom, is accessed from stairs in the kitchen and even has a small balcony so that Darren and his family can relax outdoors.
Darren used traditional timber framing construction methods and a multilayered design to ensure that he and his family were able to live comfortably in the tiny space…
All things considered, what he achieved is not bad for around 57 square feet per person! But what about heating the home in cold weather? Darren’s got that covered, too.
The tiny home uses natural gas and electricity for heating. The house has mineral wool insulation, vapor barrier sheets, and laminate flooring to make sure that the tiny home is warm inside all year round.
Darren also installed OSB sheathing and PVC roofing membranes to regulate the house’s inner temperature – and, best of all, it costs a small amount to heat the space.